Start: San Sebastian- Donostia Finish: Lekeitio
What makes San Sebastian so special?
This refined city focusses on enjoying life to the fullest, with all five senses. Let Donostia entice you with its excellent cuisine, summer beaches, Basque culture and grand film festival. The city’s ‘Old Port’ district is a must-see, along with the requisite paddle in the sea and stroll through the 19th-century shopping district.
San Sebastian is well-connected and easily reached from Bilbao airport (BIO).
Make your way out of the city trekking directly from the hotel or skip the urban section and get dropped off at Ermita Guadalupe just above Fuenterrabia (Hondarribia in Basque). Hiking up toward Jazkibel Peak, the Bay of Biscay spreads out below you and San Sebastian shrinks off into the distance. A 1900 military fort, one of at least five built here, requires no explanation from its perch on the border with France. Pause at the Jaizkibel cantina – last chance for coffee or beer - then veer down off the ridge through open meadows and heaths to the fjord-like port of Pasaia. Jump on the ferry and, once across, return to the city by bus or walk another 9 km back to your hotel. The final section on foot explores a surprisingly rugged coastline, ending abruptly above Zurriola beach and the Urumea estuary, and ends with a short stretch past the beach and Kursaal modern art centre to the harbour, the city’s oldest sector.
Challenge: 19 km, 200m ascent, 600m descent
Today you walk 16 km or shorten the hike by taking a bus from the city to Monte Ezquiel (elevation 150m) to pick up the Camino del Norte pilgrimage path. The route follows surfaced sections and unsurfaced tracks, maintaining height while the coast path surges constantly up and down below you. Accommodation tonight is in Orio, just across the river near the train station.
Challenge: 16 km, 5.5 - 6 hrs, 585m ascent/descent
The Camino ‘lies low’ today, following mainly paved roads from village to village passing the port of Guetaria. Stop off in Zarautz, a real city, and stroll along the seafront, pause at a café or select a restaurant such as the one owned by Arguiñano, Spain's most famous television chef. Your final stop is a town which gained instant stardom following the release of box-office hit Ocho Apellidos Vascos and some local spots have suddenly become popular selfie decors. Make sure to snap a few pics at the port of Zumaia and San Telmo chapel, both of which appear in the film. When your stomach starts to rumble, head for the welcoming town centre a proper Basque port with its own beach, where several good (fish) restaurants await.
Challenge: 16 km, 6 - 6.5 hrs, 585m ascent/descent
Take the Camino out of town then hop over to the GR-121 to enjoy unique and bizarre rock formations along the coastal Flysch Geopark. Here you can inspect intriguing sequences of sedimentary rock layers of marine origin created 60 million years ago, veritable works of art sculpted by Mother Nature. The Camino del Norte leads the way at both the beginning and end of this hike, and the last section stops at the station in Deba, where you get a slow train back to Zumaia (hourly departures, travel time 15 minutes). Once there, it’s a 20-minute walk to your hotel.
Challenge: 12 km, 5.5 hrs, 740m ascent/descent
Start off with a 20-minute transfer to Ondárroa, for one final leg paralleling the coast. Traverse open rural landscapes, pine woods and eucalyptus groves, then connect with a nearly flat footpath and flow with the River Lea out to the beautiful town of Lekeitio, situated on the estuary. This typical Basque port and seaside resort makes its living from fishing, tourism and enough (small-scale) industry to support the local population. For four centuries one of Bizkaia’s most important ports, second only to Bilbao, its narrow access surprises with minimal dimensions, protected from silting up by a small dam built between the beach San Nicolas Island. The impressive Gothic cathedral and well-preserved historic harbour district make for a fabulous evening stroll, backdrop for an excellent (fish) dinner enjoyed with a glass of bubbly Basque Txakolí.
Challenge: 13 km, 5 hrs, 625m ascent, 625m descent
Your last day in Lekeitio lends itself to rest and relaxation or further exploration on foot. Traipse along the well-marked GR-123 going west to reach the town of Ea on the riverbank sandwiched between two steep mountain slopes. Here, a number of Basque ‘tabernas’ and restaurants will move you to sample the local delights. Then it’s back to Lekeitio by bus.
Optionally, you can take a taxi to Aulesti to pick up the GR-38 then trundle along back to Lekeitio along the River Lea. This route reveals part of local industrial spirit as well as true Basque country life. Option of shortening the walk by taking the bus from different points along the route
Challenge (Aulesti-Lekeitio): 13 km, 5 hrs, 585m ascent/675m descent
You trip comes to an end after breakfast. Hourly buses from Lekeitio to Bilbao make for an easy travel day.
The hotels on this trip have been carefully selected for their location, atmosphere and/or unique services. All rooms are en-suite. Some of the hotels we work with appear here. If a certain hotel is unable to confirm due to lack of availability, we will request a similar one and inform you about the alternative booked.
Extra nights can be booked at any of the accommodations along the way.
Hotel Niza in San Sebastian is an emblematic family-run hotel in an idyllic location just a stone's throw from La Concha beach, offering you everything you could want. Rooms have sea views to Playa de La Concha.
A newly built construction, only 3 years old, designed to ensure that visitors enjoy a restful and comfortable experience. Directly above the famous Flysch - a privileged spot - and only a moment’s walk from San Telmo chapel. The hotel's unique decoration is the work of Basque artist Anton Eguiguren, giving each room its own unique personality. Hotel staff pays great attention to detail to ensure that guests leave with the memory of a unique and friendly experience.
You can start on any day of the week, subject to availability, between May 1st and October 25th.
The nearest airport is Bilbao (BIO)
Arrival in San Sebastian
There are direct bus connections from Bilbao Airport (BIO) to San Sebastian. Travel time is 1h15 and departures are every hour from 06:45 hrs, every half an hour in July and August. Option of stopping off in Zarautz.
For information on travel to / from Bilbao Airport (BIO), see www.aena.es
Line DO50B makes just one stop in San Sebastian, on Plaza Pius XII, which is 1.7 km from your hotel (a short taxi ride). See www.pesa.net for bus timetables and to purchase tickets online in advance.
Return from Lekeitio
There are direct bus services from Lekeitio to Bilbao city centre. Travel time is approximately 1 hour. From Bilbao city centre, you get a 30-minute shuttle to the airport.
GPS tracks area available upon request.